• ‘PNP prevented from probing wounded sailor’

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    ZAMBOANGA CITY: A Vietnamese sailor who was shot and wounded by suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels who hijacked their cargo ship off Basilan province on Friday is now at a private hospital here but the regional police said an immigration official prevented investigators from talking to the victim.

    Police said Lai Minh Kao was admitted at the Brent Hospital and is being cared for by another Vietnamese sailor Pham Van Trong.

    Senior Supt. Michael Nicolas, regional police spokesman, said Albert Abanila, head of the Bureau of Immigration, allegedly prevented investigators from getting information from Kao.

    “The head of (the Bureau of) Immigration identified as Mr. Albert Abanila prohibited the CIS (Criminal Investigation Section) member to conduct interview with the victim,” he said.

    It was not immediately known why Abanila prevented the local police from investigating the wounded seaman.
    Kao’s cargo ship, MV Royal 16, was hijacked on Friday by 10 gunmen on a speedboat near Sibago Island and seized six crewmen – Do Trung Hieu, Hoang Vo, Tran Khac Dung, Huang Trung Thong and Huang Van Hai – including its captain, Pham Min Tuan.

    The wounded sailor was rescued by a passing Filipino ship, MV Iloilo Lorcon, and brought to Zamboanga City.
    The Vietnamese ship was carrying bags of cement and heading for Davao City when it was hijacked.

    No individual or group claimed responsibility for the abduction, but suspicion fell heavily on the Abu Sayyaf group which is holding over a dozen Malaysian and Indonesian sailors, including a German yachter kidnapped recently in Sabah, Malaysia.

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